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Weighing up the processes

Data logging is a strong element, say Janet Inglis and Judi Sunderland.

At Hanson school, in Bradford, students arrive in Year 9, and for many this is the first time they are taught food technology, which is compulsory for all students. At the end of Year 9 it is one of the four Damp;T options offered for the GCSE. Initially our aim is to develop knowledge of the working characteristics of food, with an understanding of the industrial practices necessary GCSE-level work.

Students visit local food processing plants to gain first-hand experience of equipment, quality control and computer-aided manufacture. Classroom activities have been developed to replicate industrial practices, including designing and making products based on ice-cream, and students have worked in conjunction with a local ice-cream manufacturer.

In the second term students are introduced to product analysis and the functions of ingredients. This includes investigative work on bread making. Lessons focus on disassembling bread by identifying which ingredients are used and why they are included. Morphological design, suggesting alternative ingredients that could be used to make bread, is used to help in the designing of new bread products.

Building on the concept of "fair testing" used in science, investigations into the use of different flours are made. Results, from measuring, for example the height of the rise, are recorded. A digital camera is used to record the internal structures.

Processes used in industry are also explored through experimentation. To discover whether the use of ascorbic acid ill speed up the rate at which bread rises two samples of dough are produced, one containing ascorbic acid, the second without. The samples are attached to position sensors connected to a PC, measuring angle of movement. We use the program RM Investigate, although there are others that will do the same job. The data logging program records the height of the rise, and the time taken, using coloured graphs for each sample. These results produce a dramatic visual result to analyse. Students can then make an informed choice of the ingredients for their own bread product.

Data logging has strong cross-curricula links with science. Many applications are developed by students once they are able to use the program independently, including monitoring the pH in yogurt making, checking times and temperatures in cook-chill manufacturing, and recording changes during the use of a refrigerator and freezer.

Year 10 GCSE students investigate how computers are used in manufacturing. A case study on the production of frozen peas, found in Collins' Food Technology textbook (Real World Technology series), is used to illustrate the speed and efficiency of computers on the production line. Students design and build a conveyor belt using a motor and a light sensor and write a program which is able to detect a different-coloured product passing by. Small chewy fruit sweets are an ideal product for this activity - and students can eat the rejects!

Janet Inglis is head of design and technology faculty and Judi Sunderland is assistant head of design and technology, at Hanson School, Bradford.

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